Founders


Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (z”l), Co-Founder

In 2004, after hearing of the slaughter and unrest in Darfur, Sudan, Rabbi Schulweis charged his congregation, Valley Beth Shalom, with forming a Jewish “world watch” to raise awareness of the atrocities.  From that beginning grew Jewish World Watch, initially a synagogue- based organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds to protest the first genocide of the 21st century and bringing vital assistance to its survivors.

In addition to founding JWW, Rabbi Schulweis was also the founding chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. He has been honored by both the religious and secular communities for his humanitarian efforts in these and other arenas.

Rabbi Schulweis was a much beloved spiritual leader and teacher at Valley Beth Shalom. He was a prolific and decorated author, editor and contributor to a number of magazines, and one of the best known pulpit rabbis in America.

Read Rabbi Schulweis’s Founding Sermon  | Listen to Rabbi Schulweis’s Founding Sermon

His influence spread far and wide, as evidenced by this article relating how he inspired Bruce Springsteen.

He passed away December 18, 2014, leaving behind his wife Malkah, three children, many grandchildren, and a bereaved community. You can watch Janice’s eulogy for him here.

 

Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Co-Founder

At the urging of her teacher and soon-to-be Co-Founder Rabbi Schulweis, Janice retired from the active practice of law to establish Jewish World Watch to be the Jewish response to genocide and mass atrocities.

After completing her initial years of education (B.A. ’73, UCLA; M.S.W. ’75, USC; M.A. ’75, HUC), Janice led LA’s Soviet Jewry mobilizing effort and traveled to the former Soviet Union in her capacity as the Director of the Commission on Soviet Jewry for the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. After earning her J.D. from UCLA in 1982, Janice practiced environmental law for more than two decades.

Janice has served as a leader of many Jewish, feminist, and legal organizations in addition to serving as an LA County commissioner. She is married to Benjamin and has three children, Yoni, Devi and Sami, who is married to the lovely Rachel.

 

Board Chair

Diana Buckhantz

Diana runs her family foundation, the Vladimir and Araxia Buckhantz Foundation, which focuses on issues around runaway and homeless youth, arts education in the schools, aging, reproductive rights, and women’s empowerment projects in Eastern Congo and Chad.

Prior to running the Foundation and for the past 25 years Diana was a social issue public relations consultant with a track record in obtaining media attention for non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and foundations. Diana has worked on issues as diverse as the environment, women’s civil rights, children’s educational programs, disability, and adolescent sexuality to name a few and has been successful in promoting her clients and their issues in local and national media. Prior to her consulting career, Diana was Media Director for Children Now, one of California’s leading advocacy groups for children and the Public Relations/Marketing Manager for the California Family Health Council. She was also press secretary for Gil Garcetti’s successful District Attorney Campaign.

Diana Buckhantz was recently part of the producing team that brought the Tony-nominated musical Leap of Faith from the Ahmanson Theatre to Broadway. She was also a Producer of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York.

Diana began her professional career producing award-winning documentaries including “Dying with Dignity” and “Not A Question of Courage,” both for KTLA. Her documentaries have also received two National EMMY awards, two local EMMY Awards, the Scripps Howard Award for Broadcast Journalism, the State Bar of California Public Service Award, the NAPTE National Iris Award, the National Education Award, three Angel Awards, and the Kenny Rogers World Hunger Media Award. While a producer at ITC Productions, she received an Associate Producer credit for the feature film “Without A Clue,” starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.

Diana received a Bachelors of Arts from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and a Masters in Fine Arts for Theatre Arts from California Institute of the Arts.

 

Other Board Members

 

Jane Z. Cohen
John Fishel
Oren Gabriel
Stuart A. Gabriel
Diane Kabat
Rabbi Alan Lachtman
Sheryl Layne
Brie Loskota
Vaughan Meyer
Joy Picus
Marcy Rainey
Susan Saltz
Malkah Schulweis
Rabbi Richard Spiegel
David Straus
Zev Yaroslavsky

 

James ‘Jim’ Zukin